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Unlimited Games. How should Red play 21?
eXtreme Gammon ID: XGID=----a-EbC---dE--Ac-e----A-:0:0:1:21:2:3:0:9:10

Answer and Commentary

You cannot play successful backgammon without continually taking balanced risks. This week’s position is a classic example. Over the board Red made the ‘safe’ play of 16/13. True it is safe for one roll but the key question to ask yourself is ‘what next?’ 

Red’s game plan will now have to be to continue to play safe while trying to escape the back checker. It is too early in the game for that to work. He needs to follow the basic rules of the opening, develop checkers and take tempi from your opponent when possible. 

The 2 must be played 6/4* which follows both of those principles. The best ace is then 24/23 which neatly triplicates White’s fours, thus cutting down on her return shots from the bar. The second best play is 16/15, 6/4* but that is very nearly a technical error, such is the power of duplication. 

As you can see from the rollouts, 16/13 is a bad error. 

The key here is to concentrate on getting the checkers working. Safety is normally a secondary consideration in the opening.

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24/14 gives Red a very disconnected position and puts no real pressure on White.

Theory says that because White has an advanced anchor Red should try to obtain his own high anchor.


I think many would choose 24/23, 13/11 here but that is not quite the best move.

White has ten checkers in the attack zone and also owns the 5-pt. Red’s best game plan is to equalise the